Sans 3-iron, Emiliano Grillo rebounds at Arnold Palmer Invitational

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Sans 3-iron, Emiliano Grillo rebounds at Arnold Palmer Invitational

PGA Tour

Sans 3-iron, Emiliano Grillo rebounds at Arnold Palmer Invitational

ORLANDO – Saturday’s third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational was not Emiliano Grillo’s proudest moment. Trying to go at the 555-yard dogleg-left sixth hole in two shots, he deposited one approach with a 3-iron into the water, and then a second off the rocks fronting the green.

A third shot with his 3-iron was sprayed well right, and that was it for the club. With his sixth shot (including two penalty strokes) still not at rest on the par-5 hole, Grillo, a fun-loving, 24-year-old Argentine, flung the 3-iron deep into the nearby lake.
His quadruple-bogey 9 left him 6 over through six holes, and Grillo plummeted from contention, shooting 78.

At least that happened in the third round, not his final round, leaving Grillo room for some redemption. He got it, too, shooting a blemish-free, 4-under 68 at Bay Hill on Sunday – 10 shots better than Saturday – to climb into a tie for seventh place. He finished 72 holes at 7-under 281.

“It’s always nice to have a day to come back,” Grillo said. “It could have gone the other way. It’s one of those ‘What ifs,’ you know? I actually wish I would have shanked it yesterday … I still could have made par.

“I still had to play a nice round today. Top 10 at any tournament out here, I’m going to walk out happy with it.”

He said there was nothing about the golf part of it that he’d have done differently on Saturday. He was taking a bold line and hit the first two shots solidly, but came up short on one and was slightly left with the other.

“Honestly, I didn’t miss a shot until the 15th hole. The other ones were just a little bad of a line, a little misjudging,” he said. “We were hitting 3-iron and if you miss it a little bit left, a little bit right, it’s going to be 10 yards or 15 yards (off). It was one of those, two in a row, it was in a bad line, maybe the second one was too greedy. But like I said, I didn’t miss a shot until the 15th hole.”

Even with the 9 – which was merely half of John Daly’s score on No. 6 during tournament play years ago – Grillo would finish only four shots off the winning score. But here’s the good news: It was the third consecutive event in which he played three of four rounds very well. So he’s close.

Plus, he said, he made the point that he could make a 9 on one hole at this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Texas and only go 1 down.

Grillo put a 2-iron into his bag on Sunday since he only was carrying 13 clubs (he hit the 2-iron only one time) and came up short on one par 3 when he really needed the 3-iron that was swimming with the fishes. He said he would visit the Callaway van on Monday on the range in Austin and ask for a new 3-iron, adding with a smile, “if they give me one.”

With one more go at the rugged sixth hole on Sunday, Grillo again hit a great drive that left him in a tempting position to go for the green. He likely needed about a 5-wood to get there. Instead, he laid up with an iron to 99 yards, pitched on to 13 feet, and made the putt for birdie. It was five shots better than one day earlier. If only…

If there was anything that left Grillo feeling a little sheepish, it was that his outburst of temper came on a week when golf was celebrating one of its greatest sportsmen, Arnold Palmer. Grillo, as many players did, sported a Palmer umbrella on his cap and really was moved by the overall spirit of the week.

“You can see how everybody is carrying his name, wearing the umbrella, trying to emulate him,” Grillo said. “I didn’t do it quite right yesterday on the sixth, but, you know … everybody gets mad. Even him. I’m sure even Arnold Palmer got mad once or twice.”

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